Chain link fences are great for security and for keeping critters out, but not so pretty to look at. The answer is easy – landscaping along a chain link fence hides it beautifully.
These chain link fence covering ideas use plants and shrubs to hide an ugly fence quickly!
Our neighborhood is made up of 2/3 acre lots, many of which use chain link fences to divide the properties. While this type of fence is great to keep our German Shepherd dogs enclosed, it is an eyesore.
One of my projects for my test garden was to do some landscaping along a chain link fence that is very visible from our patio setting. It was easier than you might think to cover it quickly!
If you are looking ideas for how to make a chain link fence look nice, these tips are for you.
Chain link fence covering ideas
Many of these garden chain link fence cover up ideas include plants. The reason is simple. Fences (and fence coverings) are hard and angular, while plants are soft and lush.
The combination of the two together gets the job done of hiding an ugly fence, while adding beauty and softness in the process.
The left side of our yard is surrounded by neighbor’s chain link fence and had only lawn on our side. The entire side of all the neighbor’s yards are visible through it.
With some time spent tilling garden beds and adding fast growing plants, we were able to cover the fence in one season very inexpensively.
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Landscaping along a chain link fence
When choosing plants to hide chain link fences, you’ll want to start with some that will grow tall at the back of the border.
Forsythia plants make a great fence hedge
We started by planting forsythia bushes that one of my neighbors had dug up and discarded. It became one of my most inexpensive ways to hide a chain link fence.
My husband used an axe to chop the one large plant into smaller pieces. I then planted the pieces of forsythia all along the fence where the upright chain link fence supports are located for maximum coverage.
While the pieces were small when we first planted them, it didn’t take long for them to fill in. Forsythia are very fast growing shrubs.
The forsythia flowers appear first in early spring, and then the leaves follow and do a great job of hiding the fence for the whole of the summer.
While they do lose their leaves in the winter months, the plant is still bushy enough to cover the fence line pretty well.
What an amazing burst of spring time sunshine! See my tips for growing forsythia bushes here.
Once the forsythia were planted, we tilled the area on front of them, added a bird bath in the center of the garden bed, and started planting shrubs, annuals and perennials.
I finished up with ground covers to fill in areas between the taller plants and shrubs.
Plants to hide a chain link fence
Here are some of the plant that I chose for landscaping along a chain link fence. I’ve also included more plants that I used on other areas of my garden beds, which line all four fence lines.
Note: Don’t place plants too close to the fences. Check the directions on each plant for how much space it needs to grow to mature size, and leave at least that much space between the plant and the fence.
Vines for a chain link fence
If you are looking at getting the most bang for your buck when you are trying to figure out how to hide a fence with landscaping, try vines.
To me, the best vines for chain link fences are those that won’t completely take over the fence. While you want coverage, the weight of a fence covered with vines could make it unstable over time.
Since I am using other plants to hide the fence, as well, I like to keep my vines in check.
You also have to consider the type of vine that you want to grow. There are several types of vines that will cover an ugly fence:
- flowering vines – these add pops of color along the fence line
- foliage vines – these give a solid green look
- annual vines – need to be replanted each year
- perennial vines – these overwinter and come back the next year
- evergreen vines – will add coverage all year long
- deciduous vines – will lose their leaves in winter
In our case, the decision was made for us and was cost effective. We already had honeysuckle growing on two fence lines.
Honeysuckle on chain link fences grows quickly and we just have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t grow into other shrubs or take over the fence. Pruning in mid-summer works well.
Some other good choices for flowering vines are morning glory, clematis, and Black eyed Susan vine.
If you are looking for foliage types of vines, Boston Ivy, English Ivy and Carolina jasmine are good choices.
Climbing roses on chain link fence
We planted some rose bushes and a few other plants along the border of the fence line, and they do a good job of keeping the front part of the border lush and full.
Climbing roses on the actual chain link fence are even better at camouflaging the fence.
For tall chain link fences, climbing roses hide the fence and add so much beauty to it. Plant the bushes close to the fence and they will grow up easily and will use the fence for support.
Space climbing roses about 6 feet apart to give them room to grow and spread out their long canes.
Make sure that you tie off the canes in the direction that you wish them to grow. Climbing roses can easily grow out of control.
Tall perennials to hide a chain link fence
There are many cottage garden plants that will grow tall enough to cover an ugly fence line. Here are some that I made use of.
Sunflowers hide fences well
My daughters favorite flower is a sunflower so I planted lots of these along the fence line.
The height of the sunflowers tower over the fence line, taking my eyes upward, but there is also lots of foliage along the stem that covers the fence, too.
Hollyhocks to cover an ugly fence
If you are looking for just the right height of tall perennial for your chain link fence border, you can go wrong with hollyhocks.
They are very vigorous and will grow all the way to the top of the fence quickly.
Hollyhocks will provide a colorful screen against any ugly fence all summer long.
An added bonus is that they make wonderful cut flowers. You can kill two birds with one stone, by hiding your chain link fence and having a cutting garden, to boot.
Japanese silver grass hides a chain link fence completely
My favorite tall perennial for plants to hide a fence is Japanese silver grass. I have this growing in two sections of my garden. One row covers the entire left side of the yard along the fence line.
The other covers a section very near our deck and made a complete barrier in just one year.
Japanese silver grass grows to about 8 feet tall. I spaced it 5 feet apart and it is lush and dense in just a few months.
This perennial has tall plumes that come out in fall and last throughout the winter months, giving seeds for birds in winter.
I loved the way our neighbor’s trees now seem like a part of our property! By this fall, I don’t think we will see that fence at all.
This plant was another cost effective plant for us. I bought one plant a Lowe’s and have divided it ever since. For $9.99 I have gotten about 30 plants out of it, with more to come this year. Don’t you love getting plants for free?
Find out how to grow Japanese silver grass here.
Some other perennials that I used for my chain link fence landscaping ideas were these:
- Gladiolus – these tall perennial bulb was my father’s favorite and I have them all around my yard. They are so tall they need staking now!
- Red hot pokers – The base is almost tall enough to cover the fence height and the flowers extend well above.
- Daylilies – I have daylilies in all my garden beds and they fill in areas between plants well. Daylilies are tall and have even taller blooms.
Shrubs to hide fence line
There are many shrubs that will grow tall enough to cover a chain link fence. We’ve mentioned forsythia already but we have lots to choose from.
Another cost effective shrub for me was gardenia. I purchased them two planted in a pot and divided them, cutting my cost in half.
What started out as an 8 inch plant grew very quickly. It is now over 5 feet tall and is just covered in fragrant blooms in summer.
Other tall shrubs that will quickly cover the height of a chain link fence are these:
- California lilac – drought tolerant and will cover a fence as tall as 6-10 feet.
- Brugmansia – Angel’s trumpet flowers grace this perennial that is hardy in zones 9-12.
- Climbing hydrangea – They feature large, fragrant clusters of white flowers that bloom in late spring and summer.
- Wisteria – Perfumed beautiful, violet-blue or lavender blooms that flower in mid to late spring. Be careful. This one can take over!
- Baptisia – Hummingbirds love the purple flower of this perennial that grows about 4 feet tall.
- Bamboo – multiplies quickly and will cover the entire fence.
Elephant ears plant
Never let it be said that I don’t mind a bargain. The next plant in my border that does a good job of hiding a chain link fence is an elephant ears plant.
I found a small piece of the tuber growing in my compost pile, and it’s now large enough to hide my neighbor’s house!
Elephant ears stand very upright and can grow to quite a height over time. The also have several stems from one tuber so you get width coverage as well.
Elephant ears are tropical plants and are supposed to be cold hardy only in zones 9-11 but I have had no problem growing mine in zone 7b. Your mileage may differ.
What about ground covers near a chain link fence?
Ground covers are an option that will make it easier for you to mow your lawn. If you plant ground covers instead of grass near the fences, you won’t have to mow in that area.
Some good choices are:
- lambs ears – has soft pretty flowers and fuzzy leaves.
- liriope – use the variegated kind. Normal liriope is very invasive.
- ice plant – drought tolerant succulent that gets covered in small flowers.
- bugleweed – brilliant purple flowers in spring and the plant grows quickly.
There are plenty of chain link fence covers that you can purchase (affiliate link), but for my money, I prefer the look of ugly fences that are hidden by careful landscaping. How about you? What tips do you have for landscaping along a chain link fence? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
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Admin note: this post for tips to hide a chain link fence first appeared on the blog in August of 2013. I have updated the post to add new photos, more plants to try, a shopping list, and a video for you to enjoy.
Print out the shopping trip below and take it with you when you head out to purchase plants that will cover an ugly fence.
- Computer paper or card stock
- Computer printer
- Load your printer with paper or card stock.
- Print out the printable below.
- Take with you on your next plant shopping trip.
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